Cuno’s “10 Copy Cop-Outs” or “How to Spot a Lazy Writer”
This article was born on my way to work this morning as I shouted at the radio — because the lazy copy writer who’d resorted to “people who care” wasn’t in my car.
Maybe I’m different. Maybe the rest of world says, “Holy smokes, if that company has people who care, I’m giving them my business from now on.” But to me, it’s a Copy Cop-Out. A platitude masquerading as a claim. A hallmark of writers too lazy to dig out and present a viable benefit.
While Copy Cop-Outs abound, here are my nominations for the Top Ten:
1. “People who care.” I’m willing to believe the competition’s people don’t care. But until they brag about it in their ads, telling me you do won’t set you apart.
2. “Only the finest ingredients.” Yeah, right, like I believe your chef visits the market each morning and hand-picks the plumpest tomatoes. By the way, if that’s true, say THAT in your ad.
3. “Our people are trained professionals.” Society tends to reserve the word “professional” for doctors and lawyers. Don’t try to convince me the kid in greasy overalls working the lube pit is a professional. If you gave him exhaustive training and refused to turn him loose on my car until he passed a rigorous exam, tell me THAT.
4. “All your needs.” Compare “Over 100,000 hard-to-find foreign car parts in stock” to “For all your foreign car part needs.” Which do you think is stronger?
5. “A tradition of...” If you believe tradition is a compelling copy point, consider the ongoing decline in holiday fruit cake sales.
6. “We were first.” Being first in the consumer mind is good. Whining about being first when no one cares is useless. Would a campaign telling you that root beer and orange soda were here first make you give up Coke?
7. “Friendly service.” Don’t waste your breath. Everybody says that. We don’t believe them any more than we believe you.
8. “Serving you since...” If people cared how long you’d been serving Utah’s lingerie needs, Juliette’s would still be here. Victoria’s Secret would be struggling.
9. “Proud to be...” Bully for you, but I want to know what you’ll do for me, not what you’re proud of.
10. “Your partner.” No, you’re not. A partner invests and shares risk. You, by contrast, are trying to sell me something.
Too bad space only permits ten cop-outs. There’s still “our people make the difference,” “we mean business,” “the best,” “at a price you’re going to love,” “let’s face it,” “excellence” ... and ... “much, much more.”